ISP 392: DePaul Documentary Corps (Winter 2021)

Course Description

In this four-credit internship course, developed as part of DePaul’s HumanitiesX initiative, you will document and preserve critical experiences related to our current time of challenge and change. Our primary work will be to conduct, process, and edit remote interviews with DePaul students, staff, alumni, and community partners, on topics including the pandemic and the ongoing struggle for racial justice. We will work in close partnership with DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives, which will preserve the materials we collect, and for whom we will develop digital projects to foster engagement with these materials. Finally, in keeping with the HumanitiesX goals to connect students with Chicago’s arts and culture organizations, museums, and libraries, ISP 392 will feature frequent guest visits from professionals who work in these settings.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Conduct a successful extended one-on-one interview, drawing on techniques from oral history and related fields
  • Articulate how documentary and oral history methods can be applied in different community and professional settings
  • Use selected audio, documentary, and processing technologies with basic proficiency, including audio recording tools, audio editing software, transcription and indexing software, and online collection-management and sharing tools
  • Respond to moments of crisis and change with appropriate documentary methods
  • Apply ethical concepts at all stages of a documentary or oral history project

Readings & Resources


Yow, V. R. (2014). Recording oral history: A guide for the humanities and social sciences, 3rd ed.. Rowman & Littlefield. [please be sure to get the 3rd edition]

chapters & articles

Abelmann, N., Davis, S., Finnegan, C., & Miller, P. (2009). What is StoryCorps, anyway? Oral History Review, 36(2), 255–260.

Chenier, E. (2018). Oral history’s afterlife. In K. Srigley, S. Zembrzycki, & F. Iacovetta (Eds.), Beyond women’s words: Feminisms and the practices of oral history in the twenty-first century (pp. 304–312). Routledge.

Faulkenbury, E. (2020). Journalism, COVID-19, and the opportunity of oral history. The Oral History Review47(2), 253-259.

Larson, M. (2018). The medium is political and the message is personal: Feminist oral histories online. In K. Srigley, S. Zembrzycki, & F. Iacovetta (Eds.), Beyond women’s words: Feminisms and the practices of oral history in the twenty-first century (pp. 298–303). Routledge.

videos & online resources

Dropmark Collection of Oral Histories and Documentaries:  

Luster, D. (2018, June 29). Archives Have the Power to Boost Marginalized Voices | TEDxPittsburgh.

Nunn Center. (2014, August 21). Using OHMS to Index Oral History: A Detailed Tutorial.

Oklahoma State Libraries. The Oral History Process. (2019, October 11). Retrieved October 5, 2020, from

Oral History Centre. (2016, April 27). Alessandro Portelli – Speaking of Oral History.

OHMA Columbia. (2016, January 5). The Oral History Centre: What is Oral History?


  1. CITI PROGRAM HUMAN SUBJECTS COURSE & ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW TRAINING (5%): To prepare to ethically and professionally conduct oral history interviews, you will complete two activities: 1) the Basic human subjects online training course offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program, and 2) an oral history training session (1/20, during class) led by Peter Alter, of the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History. You will be graded on your on-time completion of and engagement in these two trainings.
  2. INTERVIEW #1 (20%): By week 5, you will complete one 30-45-minute interview with a personal contact or a peer in the course. This interview will be submitted with a summary, an index, a partial transcript, and all necessary consent and release forms.
  3. HIGHLIGHTS STORY (10%): Using the audio file of Interview #1, you will isolate several of the most compelling moments and responses from the interview, extract them using audio-editing software, and construct a cohesive, <3-minute audio story. The story will be submitted for a grade and passed on to your interviewee.
  4. FORMAL REFLECTION PAPERS (15%): To develop as an interviewer and documentary practitioner, you will reflect on your emerging practice and our guest-speaker visits, often through the lens of our course readings. Three polished, short reflection papers (500-750 words each) will be due at regular intervals in the course.
  5. INTERVIEW #2 (25%): You will compete a 30-45-minute interview with a personal or professional contact or a person identified by the Documentary Corps team. The interview will be submitted with a summary, an index, a photograph of the interviewee, an auto-generated transcript, and all necessary consent and release forms.
  6. CONTRIBUTIONS TO DOCUMENTARY CORPS DIGITAL PROJECTS (20%): As a class, we will work with Special Collections and Archives to promote, synthesize, and circulate the work of the Documentary Corps. You will join one of four teams—the audio documentary, website, archival collection, or outreach team—and with your team, develop both a plan and prototype versions of these digital projects. You will be assessed both on your team’s overall deliverable and on a Team Performance Review that documents your contributions to the project.
  7. PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT WITH GUESTS (5%): ISP 392 relies on the engagement of students with each other and with guests. As such, your preparation for and engagement with both your peers and our guests is a graded activity.